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Bakelite Jewelry

Bakelite jewelry is famous for its colourful and exciting styles. It is not made from any precious stone or expensive crystals but it is one of the most popular collectible items in the world of jewelry. Bakelite is made from interaction of phenol and formaldehyde that was discovered and created in 1906 by Dr. Leo Hendrik Baekeland.

Bakelite as a material has substantial quality that can not be equalled in modern plastic materials. Bakelite echoes with an almost musical sound, never flat when two bangles clunk together. Bakelite jewelry is a cast resin and not molded, so there is no visible mold lines or seams. All hard wares such as clip, pin back or any metal decoration are not glued. They are attached to the Bakelite plastic with brads, screws or rivets.

Bakelite process involves casting of phenolic resin into tubes, rods and carved sheets by machinists. There are actually two variations of Bakelite, the catalin and the marblette but they are both branded today as Bakelite. Bakelite has wide range of colors but its most notable colors are red, brown, green and white. One extraordinary characteristic of Bakelite jewelry is that the way the color patinated and oxidized over time that entirely changes its shade from its original manufactured colors. Colors like white was usually transformed to cream corn, turquoise became green, and pink turned to orange, and so on. Prystal is entirely see-through non-marbled Bakelite with colors like amber, teal, green, pink and red. The amber prystal is frequently tagged as applejuice while tortoise or rootbeer colors are usually marbled.

Bakelite jewelry became a big bit during 1920s and then later became an important design in fashion jewelry in 1930s as its stylish and chic design transform jewelry into something trendier and more hip costume jewelry. Prominent designers like Channel, Van Cleef and Lalique incorporate Bakelite in their ingenious designs. Popular U.S department stores like Bonwit Teller, Sears, B. Altmans and Saks likewise include Bakelite jewelry in their offerings.

However, in 1942, Bakelite production ceased making Bakelite jewelry became classic and one of the most searched collectible item. To date, vintage Bakelite has an amazing appreciated value that resulted manufacturer to come up in producing Bakelite imitation jewelry.

Genuine Bakelite can be normally distinguished from its imitated counterpart through some test because Bakelite has a very strong formaldehyde odor when submerged to heated water. However, there had been some report that Bakelite imitations have been further treated to surpass the common Bakelite test. So it would be best to buy vintage and genuine Bakelite jewelry from reputable jewelry stores. But in general, oxidized vintage pieces of Bakelite jewelry with the overall signs of age on their surface are more attractive than flat, bright colored and newly released imitated Bakelite.

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